As I wind down at Zygote Press, I wanted to make note of some of my favorite moments in these last 21 years. The meeting of the founding team—Joe, Kelly and Bellamy—they all were passionate, purpose-driven artists who worked with me to create a place where artists could interact with each other, and produce amazing work. The people I have worked with—staff and Board members, interns and resident members at Zygote—have been remarkable!
I’m very proud of the Collective Arts Network, Ink House, ZPASS, global and national residencies, Rooms to Let, and the Advocacy projects we have been doing, but the most impressive component to Zygote has yet to happen.
We stand at a critical point as a creative community. Every gallery and cultural organization in Cleveland must support fair, accessible equity regardless of race or gender, or economic background. My positions on racial and economic equity for all artists is vital to my work as an artist and activist. I’ve under-prioritized these issues in recent years. But before I step away from Zygote, I want to use this platform to make these issues known as a central mandate to everyone. This will be my work for the future: equity, representation, fair and reasonable standard of living wages for artists, and recognition of the great wealth of diversity our city can represent on a national stage.
At Zygote, we created an open accessible democratic collective space for everyone in the community. How do we grow that commitment to include artists of color and underrepresented communities? We connect, invite and engage members and doers, creators and staff, trustees and interns, leaders and patrons to participate in a cultural renaissance that celebrates diversity. To do this, we need economic investment and continued dialogue with our city officials and business leaders, philanthropic organizations and patrons, museums and universities, hospitals and the vast Cleveland sports industry. This is how we change the landscape.
Clear connections can be drawn between community distress and individual social and health outcomes. Too often, the weight of this distress falls most heavily upon Black, Hispanic, and Native American populations that are overrepresented in distressed communities across the nation. This is not any different than in Cleveland.
Together, we can cultivate creative leadership and invest in our community and culture, and invent a place to re-imagine a more equitable world. We need to strategically integrate artistic experimentation, scholarship, collaborative research, and community engagement to transcend the limits of traditional disciplines and create new forms, narratives, and approaches to address the central issues of our time. We need to reinvent who we are as a society to better serve those who remain underserved.
I urge everyone working in arts and with cultural institutions—artists, grantors, decision-makers, art schools, art programs, arts educators—to move us to greater heights. We will achieve great things when we put our minds together. This is my promise to you.
OFF-THE-WALL HOLIDAY EXHIBITION | NOON–6PM FRIDAY, DECEMBER 1 & SATURDAY, DECEMBER 2
LIZ FEST: TOAST & ROAST | 6–11PM SATURDAY, DECEMBER 9 | Location to be determined
RON ABRAMS EXHIBITION | JANUARY 19–FEBRUARY 24
Reception 6–8pm Friday, January 19
PRINT PROCESS, CURATED BY REBEKAH WILHELM | MARCH 9–APRIL 7
Reception 6–8pm Friday, March 9
1410 East 30th Street
Cleveland, Ohio 44114